US embassy cable - 02ABUJA1194


Identifier: 02ABUJA1194
Wikileaks: View 02ABUJA1194 at
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2002-04-16 16:23:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
1.  Summary and Introduction: The April 5 Supreme Court 
judgment, which ruled that offshore resources belong to the 
Federal Government not the coastal states, also removed 
external debt and oil cash calls from "first line payments." 
Rather than pay Nigeria,s external debt solely from national 
government funds, the GON now plans to allocate the 
approximately USD 30 billion debt between the national and 
state governments.  Debt originally contracted by Nigeria,s 
states during the 1980,s will be ascribed to their 
successors.  The Debt Management Office (DMO) believes that 
external payments will be delayed this month as they work out 
this new national-state debt apportionment procedure. 
2. Initial reporting speculated national control of the 
Federation Account would drop to less than 52 percent as a 
result of the decision, as opposed to 57 percent before the 
judgment.  The GON decision to charge states for part of the 
external debt and states and local governments for cash call 
obligations attempts to diminish this resource shift.  The 
ruling is so sweeping that it will affect almost every aspect 
of government.  Other areas where it will force change 
include the 2002 Budget, payment of elementary school 
teachers and financing of the new capital, Abuja.  End 
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The Resource Allocation Ruling 
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3.    The Nigerian Supreme Court announced on April 5 its 
decision that the national government, and not regional 
authorities (states), has sole control over offshore 
resources, including oil and gas.  However, the same decision 
ruled that Nigeria's external debt and other official 
obligations such as cash calls by the joint-venture oil 
companies will no longer be deducted before the money is 
distributed among national, state, and local governments. 
Note: Cash calls are the Nigerian Government obligation to 
pay its share of joint venture capital projects in the 
petroleum industry.  Joint ventures include most onshore and 
shallow water production, in addition to the majority of 
existing and proposed gas utilization projects: LNG's, 
Independent Power Projects (IPP), and ChevronTexaco's 
Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant.  Offshore prospects, including 
Nigeria's deepwater blocks, are governed by Production 
Sharing Contracts (PSCs), and therefore are not subject to 
cash calls. 
4. Note continued: GON collectible revenues from oil and 
non-oil sources, after first-line deductions, are deposited 
into the Federation Account.  With the Supreme Court 
decision, first-line deductions are now limited to the oil 
derivation allocation (13 percent of net oil revenues), which 
is set aside for development of the nine oil-producing 
states, and a few other small charges.  The Federation 
Account is then allocated to the national, state and local 
governments according to a constitutionally mandated formula. 
 National government revenue is, therefore, only one portion 
of the Federation Account.  For a full description of how the 
Federation Account functioned prior to the ruling, see 
External Debt Traced Back to Original Source 
5.    April 8, Debt Management Office Director General Akin 
Arikawe told EconOff that, based on the ruling, the GON 
planned to hold states responsible for payment of their 
portion of Nigeria's external debt.  (Comment: Most 
state-originated debt was accrued during the 1980s when only 
19 states existed compared to today's 36.)  The reworking of 
the external debt accounts will take place over the course of 
the next month.  Nigeria's debt payments, he added, would be 
delayed until the accounting has been completed. 
6.  The DMO will assign to Nigeria's new states a 
proportional amount of the debt accumulated by their 
predecessors using some yet undisclosed criteria.  For 
example, if calculations show Zamfara is 45% of the old 
Sokoto State, it will be assigned 45% of the old Sokoto State 
debt.  The DMO calculations, Arikawe believed, would be 
controversial.  One problem was what to do with outright 
fraud.  Arikawe cited the non-existent Anambra Carpet 
Factory, a company that obtained loans backed by Anambra 
State which eventually were incorporated into Nigeria's 
sovereign debt.  In this case, Arikawe indicated the GON was 
considering charging the current state (Enugu) for the 
malfeasance of the former Anambra Governor (current Senator 
Jim Nwobodo.) 
7.  Arikawe expects to have the State-based portion of the 
debt ascribed by the end of this month.  This work will, 
however, mean that the DMO may be late with this month's 
external debt payments.  Once established, the states will 
have their portion of the external debt withheld from their 
Federation Account payment.  This is per the "right of set 
off"  in the Constitution.  Nevertheless, he expects some 
states, especially Imo and Abia that he claims are bankrupt, 
to seek a court injunction against this action. 
Cash Calls To Be Shared? 
8. While not directly involved in the cash call issue, 
Arikawe believes cash call obligations will be assessed 
against the states and local government authorities.  He 
assumes the GON will measure the relative impact of oil and 
gas investments on each state and withhold that proportion of 
funds from the state's Federation Account allotment.  Cash 
calls and external debt present U.S. dollar exchange 
problems.  Arikawe believes that keeping the books straight 
will become complicated and make the rate of exchange the 
source of constant bickering.  These and other issues, 
including the criteria for allocating debts from "old" states 
to "new" states, will be looked at by the Government's new 
implementation committee, which met for the first time on 
Tuesday, April 9, with the Attorney General at its head. 
9. While Arikawe felt there would be little impact on the 
national or state governments from reworking external debt 
payments, other aspects of the judgment, however, augur 
additional funds for the states.  The country's revenue from 
natural gas exports, capital gains tax, and stamp duties will 
be subject to the same resource allocation process as oil 
revenues (retroactive to May 1999).  Heretofore, they have 
not been treated similarly.  All of these items will increase 
revenue to the states and local governments at the expense of 
the national government.  The Supreme Court decision also 
struck down the one-percent first-line payment to the 
Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the 
five-percent deduction for teacher salaries from the 
allocation to local governments. 
10.  Save for the March 28 decision declaring 
unconstitutional parts of the electoral act, this is the most 
far-reaching Supreme Court decision since the 1999 return to 
civilian government.  It is certainly the most important 
decision regarding the rights of the national and state 
governments regarding resource allocation.  Where possible 
its effect is retroactive and goes back to the date the 
present Constitution went into force, May 29, 1999.  While it 
will take some time before the full impact of the decision is 
clear, it is certain that there will be many changes -- 
including a new 2002 Budget ) that will need to be put into 
11.  For reapportioning external debt, we believe Arikawe is 
underestimating the work and time his office will need to 
make the accounting changes the Administration believes 
necessary.  They will then face the inevitable quarrels about 
how to divide the debt among the states.  While in the 
aggregate, the practical effect on external debt itself may 
mainly be the change in accounting procedures (from taking 
payment directly from the Federation Account to taking the 
payment directly from the individual states), the process 
will represent a great burden on the DMO.  Collectively the 
effect on the states may be small, but some individual states 
will be relative winners while others inevitably will lose. 
12.  Financing of the FCT will have to be dealt with by the 
National Assembly.  Moreover, the states will probably return 
to court over GON attempts to use the right of set off to 
minimize the transfer of resources to the states and local 
governments.  Even if they don't, the federal government will 
still realize a large net loss from having to share tax and 
natural gas revenues and fully finance the development of 

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